In May 2017 Pete White of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, represented by Carol Sobel, filed suit in federal district court against the City of Los Angeles, Charlie Beck, and some cop named Officer Kenny. The basis of the complaint is that Kenny ordered Pete White’s 2016 arrest while he was lawfully filming LAPD interactions with homeless people on Skid Row. Pete White claims, and it seems right to me, that he was arrested in retaliation for his activism on behalf of homeless residents of Skid Row.
For some reason, this suit does not seem to have been reported on in the real news media, and I’m interested, so I’ll be at least collecting the pleadings here. You can find them:
Watch and listen here1 to an interminable discussion at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Directors of the Central Hollywood Coalition2 about how to pay the increasing cost of the armed BID Patrol while, at the same time, maintaining or expanding dedicated “homeless outreach” services, also provided by Andrews International. In particular, staff is asking the board to approve a 5% increase in the A/I budget for next year to cover salary increases and so on.
Here are some numbers. A/I pays its BID Patrol officers $31.50 an hour.3 Almost certainly the BID is paying A/I significantly more than that. Also note that base pay for A/I unarmed officers is $13 per hour. In other words, armed officers cost about 2.5 times as much as unarmed officers. If A/I’s markup to the BID is a percentage of its HR costs then this ratio will hold constant regardless of what the BID is actually paying.4 Now, most BIDs in the City of Los Angeles do not have armed security. In fact, as far as I can tell, the two HPOA BIDs run by Kerry Morrison are the only BIDs that do.5 We have written before about Kerry Morrison’s disturbing and utterly disproportionate love of guns, and that’s probably enough to explain her insistence on armed security despite the high cost.6 And the cost is very high. According to the Sunset & Vine BID’s 2015 independent audit, the BID paid $805,608 for security out of total annual expenditures of $1,542,735.7
Recall that in August 2016, Mitch O’Farrell and Mike Bonin introduced a motion in Council to attack the homeless by prohibiting RVs from parking overnight in the Media District BID. This was as a result of lobbying by Lisa Schechter, now executive directrix of the Hollywood Media District BID, but formerly Tom LaBonge’s high muckety-muck for something or another. The full story is here. At the time I wondered why David Ryu hadn’t seconded the motion, given that (a) Schechter had lobbied him heavily to do so, and (b) a significant part of the Media District BID is in CD4:
[His non-involvement] suggests the possibility that Ryu isn’t as invested in pleasing these BIDdies as O’Farrell is. Or maybe he’s sitting it out because his staff has made him aware that Schechter’s up to something sneaky.
This morning, CD13 Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell introduced a resolution seeking to impose restrictions on parking oversized vehicles in a semi-industrialized sliver of the Hollywood Media District BID located roughly between Cole Avenue and Vine Street west to east and Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue north to south. There is a never-ending flow of these seemingly innocuous items in the agendas of our esteemed Council, but I just happen to know an awful lot about the backstory to this one, which is anything but innocuous, actually, and is the subject of today’s post.
The Media District BID is particularly attractive to people living in RVs because it’s industrialized, so no night-time neighbors to annoy, and it’s close to the center of Hollywood. Especially on Lillian Way and its cross streets, Romaine, Willoughby, and Waring, there has been a thriving but quiet community of RV-dwellers for years on end. But the Media District BID hates it. They just can’t deal with it. For instance, see this email chain from March 2015 where Hollywood cop Julie Nony discusses how to get rid of them with erstwhile Media District BID director Steven Whiddon and a bunch of overprivileged proprietors who don’t understand the concept of public space. But, probably not surprisingly, Steven Whiddon was unable to orchestrate any lasting action.
In its meeting today the City Council is slated to act on CF 16-0749, establishing a property-based Business Improvement District in Venice. This is a tragic but expected development in the ongoing degradation of what was once the loveliest neighborhood in this city. The impending clash between BID security and the politically organized, aware, and active homeless population of Venice is going to be cataclysmic. Once this BID is up and running I will be covering it extensively. Continue reading First Step Toward Establishing Venice Beach BID to be Taken in Council This Morning→
Arrests for public urination/defecation are a fundamental tool in the war against homeless people in Los Angeles, as well as being a major part of the BID Patrol’s work in Hollywood. In 2015, for instance, the BID’s data shows that about 8%1 of the arrests that Andrews International made across the two HPOA BIDs2 were for public urination/defecation, which is a violation of LAMC 41.47.2.
When the City Council passed LAMC 41.47.2 in 2003, they were roundly (and rightly) criticized by advocates for the rights of homeless people, who pointed out that it was inhumane to criminalize an activity that is necessary to sustain life without providing a practical alternative. My colleagues have written before about how Councilmembers responded to this by promising informally that it wouldn’t be enforced if there were no nearby public restrooms and by promising to install more public restrooms around the City. However, they failed to amend the actual statute, which has led to widespread abuse.3 And 13 years later there aren’t significantly more public restrooms.
However, there is another part of the public urination law, LAMC 41.47.1, which is never even mentioned in discussions of the issue, and yet it is not only relevant, but radically, transformatively relevant. It was adopted by the Council in 1988 and says:
If restroom facilities are made available for the public, clients, or employees, no person owning, controlling, or having charge of such accommodation or facility shall prohibit or prevent the use of such restroom facilities by a person with a physical handicap, regardless of whether that person is a customer, client, employee, or paid entrant to the accommodation or facility. Employee restrooms need not be made available if there are other restroom facilities available on the premises unless employee restroom facilities have been constructed or altered to accommodate the physically handicapped and such facilities are not available elsewhere on the premises.
This is bad enough, that Garcetti solicits the intimate opinions of these delusional BIDdies, who not only just make stuff up about the homeless but whose ultimate homeless policy is terrorism. It’s bad enough, as we said, but the reasons are even worse:
Mayor Garcetti is very committed to working with CCA and the other BIDS to develop homelessness policies and practices that address homelessness without unintentional harm to our business community. In the long run, we need businesses to provide pathways out of poverty through self-sustaining wages and pride in individual ability and skills.
Due to some kind-hearted click bait1 bestowed by loyal FOMs Esotouric, my colleagues’ recent post on the resurgence of the long-dormant proposed Echo Park Business Improvement District has turned out to be one of our most popular posts of 2016. The colleagues left out some absolutely essential information and so I’m following up on their behalves. Also I used the whole situation as an excuse to ride the 704 Eastbound to Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Blvd. to check out the situation on the ground.
First the essential info: This thing is on the agenda for the Economic Development Committee meeting on Tuesday, May 10, in room 1010 in City Hall. You can go tell them what you think about it. Unfortunately I have other commitments, and I’m sure approval is a foregone conclusion, but there’s the info if you want it.
Second, as you can see from the images accompanying this post, if the BID’s approved a lot of stuff is going to change out there. They’re going to chase off taco trucks. BIDs hate taco trucks with a passion that’s hard to understand. They even, believe it or not, hate taco trucks parked on private property. Showing an astonishing ignorance of the rights of property owners in a free society, they’ve been known to express amazement that they’re not against the law.
(I apologize in advance for this necessarily data-heavy post, but it’s essential information).
In 20131 the BID Patrol arrested homeless people at more than 57 times the rate that the LAPD did. Furthermore, they were responsible for more than 1% of all arrests made in the entire City of Los Angeles that year even while working only 0.13% of the hours that the LAPD did. Approximately one in fourteen arrests of homeless people in the entire city of Los Angeles that year was made by the BID Patrol.
UPDATE (3/17 9:40 a.m.): Just now the City Clerk sent out the agenda for a special meeting of the City Council tomorrow morning, amended to include the very change described in this post, requested by Carol Schatz only yesterday. Now THAT is political juice. Disgusting.
Carol Schatz, she of the zillion dollars an hour paycheck, just this evening with respect to Council file 14-1656-S1, on homeless people’s property, had a letter to the Council appear, advocating a change in conjunction from “and” to “or” in the proposed statute. Here’s what Carol Schatz had to say about the current proposal:
The ordinance from the City Attorney transmitted to the PWGR committee1 only leads to a violation if a person refuses to remove a tent and obstructs removal.
And why is this bad, Carol? Pray, do tell:
This is unreasonable in light of limited city resources. It would require the continued involvement of the LAPD to have tents deconstructed on a daily basis, which is not practical or the best use of resources. It also does not meet the City’s goal of decriminalizing homelessness.
And not only that, but look:
This is unfair to homeless individuals, business owners, residents and other community stakeholders.